Stick Bugged Speed Run
Multi channel installation of a real time simulation
PC, monitors, fitness mat
This work is about speculative creatures, which are animated and automated by the machine learning algorithm. The Installation displays a real-time simulation of the AI agents athletics. The 6-legged agents are learning themselves to walk forward as fast as possible. According to the rule of Reinforcement learning, it will get rewarded when it moves faster and longer without failing down. The agents keep learning, heading to the invisible goal, but respawning at starting point endlessly before they reach the end of the level.
While the agents are learning, the second monitor shows the discrete footages of the uncanny insect, the so-called ‘walking stick’, the master of mimicry and the data-mother of the agent runners. Her biological name is Phasmatodea, meaning ‘Ghost’, referring to their resemblance to vegetation while in fact being animals. She is an illusion between animal, plant, object and blurs the boundary between animate and inanimate. The videos prove this iconic insect which became a key inspiration for both scientists and artists to create animate beings, sometimes as a military robot, or as a diegetic character for the video game.
In South Korea, the Stick bug is indicator species for detecting the ecological effects of a changing climate. They were overpopulated epidemically and decimated due to the warming winter. The footages reveal the moment the stick insects get exterminated. They cease to play dead to become real dead. A mixture of fear and empathy is projected on this species. More speculative and less biologically, we are all together stick-bugged.
While the agents are running, they ruminate on their mother insect. The found footage and real-time machine learning simulations are mixed in multi-channel installation as if it shows the shared memory of stick insect agents. The algorithm decides itself the subject of the camera – the agents to follow with, and chooses the found footages also in random order, as Random Access Memory.
As her mother insect does, the agent’s keep escaping from the anthropocentric categorization. The AI-driven movement and the captured motion of living stick buck crash on these racing tracks – the entanglement of the lifelike-dead object and deadlike-living animals. The gym becomes the place of movement, the constitution of life, liveness and liveliness, the unstable boundaries of the organic and the synthetic, and the remembered histories and projected futures of anatomical and technical configurations of post-organism, as well as post-animation.They never stop playing/learning/thinking until their world (Program) ends without knowing what comes at the end of the level. The Speedrun is never completed.